Matala (Greek: Μάταλα) is a small coastal village 75km southwest of Heraklion belonging to the Heraklion Prefecture.
The small village of Matala centres around Matala Beach a natural bay which is the main beach. Bordering the northern side of this bay are the Matala Caves which were artificially hewn into the naturally occurring sandstone rock cliff. These structures are the main attraction in Matala and are attributed to either the Romans or early Christians. In the 1960's visiting hippies took up residence in these caves and the town and it's then residents were then immortalised in the song Carey by Joni Mitchell in 1971. The town's last and perhaps most famous hippy, Matala George is now deceased but his words echo on as the town's adopted slogan: "Today is life, tomorrow never comes!". Despite the caves and the town having no living hippies remaining, the town retains it's hippy vibe. There are beach bars, artisannal wares and market style shopping to be found around the main beach's crystal clear sparkling waters. In ancient Greek mythology Matala is the beach to which the seduced and kidnapped princess Europa was brought to by Zeus when in the form of a bull.
Matala is most easily accessed by car. It is a 1.5 hour drive from Crete's capital Heraklion.
Matala is so small that you will not need transportation to get around. The bay of the main beach Matala Beach, which the town's buildings line is only 250m in length. Many of the streets in this small town centre are single lane only. Some residents have vehicles but visitors would be advised to park their vehicle at their accommodations or at the main beach paid parking lot.
- The Matala Ancient Burial Caves The most famous landmark in Matala, the caves are accessible to visitors on foot today for a small fee at the entrance from the northern end of Matala Beach.
- Matala Town Entrance Carved Tree Sculpture This tree stands at the entrance of Matala. The sculpture carved into a tree depicts the face of Matala George, the last hippy to live there. His catchphrase "Today is life, tomorrow never comes" are painted on the ground around the sculpture. The sculpture was carved by Cretan artist Spyros Stefanakis.
Beaches and Nature
- Matala Beach The main town beach on a naturally formed bay bordered on the Northern end by the Matala Ancient Burial Caves. Yellow sand and sparkling crystal clear waters.
- Red Beach The secondary town beach only accessible by foot. It is located behind the cliff that borders the southern end of the Matala Beach. There are signs throughout the town pointing out a path to the beach. The path is a short hike of approximately 1 kilometre first rising up the cliff then descending steeply down the other side to the beach. There are no amenities at this beach except for one bar serving only mojitos. It is designated a nudist (clothing optional) beach.
- Scala Fish Bar Restaurant and Hotel Boutiuqe [+30 698 138 8135] This family owned and operated fish restaurant also offers 3 boutique rooms with breakfast included in the nightly room rate. It has the highest location in town with views over Matala Beach.
- Scala Fish Bar and Restaurant [+30 698 138 8135] Family owned and operated fresh seafood restaurant with good wine list options. Open daily for lunch and dinner until late.
- Hakuna Matata [Red Beach Trail, Matala 702 00, Greece] Live music nightly with a dual level alfresco terrace overlooking Matala Beach.